The National Parks Australia Council commends the announcement today by the Australian Labor Party to continue with their promise that if elected they will extend the EPBC Act’s Matters of Environmental Significance to include a National Park Trigger, strengthening the Federal Government’s role in protecting the places that all Australians hold dear and which is crucial for the conservation of our wildlife and wild places.
Michelle Prior, President of the National Parks Australia Council said “The forty thousand plus members of National Park Associations around Australia will welcome this move towards greater Federal stewardship of our National Parks. As it is National parks and other protected areas that rely solely on state-based protection are under threat – it’s the ‘death of a thousand cuts’ as State and Territory governments continue to try and introduce activities that are incompatible with the primary purpose of National Parks – the conservation of nature. Just consider the proposed move by the former Victorian Government to allow grazing into the fragile ecosystems of the Alpine National Park!”
Victoria is not the only example, there is continuing pressure and moves in other States to expand shooting, grazing and horse-riding to National Parks and other protected areas, without proper consideration of the ecological impacts these activities may have on the very values these areas have been protected for in the first place.
Currently, Federal protection of National Parks is indirect, via existing triggers included under Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES), such as nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities. This move would give the Federal Minister of the Environment the final powers of approval regarding whether a proposed activity will impact significantly on the values of National Parks, and is in line with other welcomed proposals by the ALP to extend MNES the ‘Water Trigger’ to include shale and tight formation gas projects.
Ms Prior added “this announcement adds credibility that the ALP is committed to restoring and strengthening the Federal Government's responsibility for matters that are truly nationally significant, like National Parks, and supports other recent announcements promising enhanced environmental protection, including their willingness to explore the potential for a National Environment Commission, or similar body that will provide the much needed assurance to all Australians that decisions that affect the environment are independent, transparent and robust, and promoting environmental democracy by supporting the Environmental Defenders Office and restoring public access to the courts. There is no doubt that Australia needs environmental reform and a new generation of environmental law. At least the ALP and Greens are listening, we are waiting to see if the Liberal Party is.”
Notes to Editors
- The National Parks Australia Council (NPAC) has a mission to protect, promote and extend national park systems within Australia.
- NPAC was formed in 1975 and is the peak community advocacy group for national parks and protected areas in Australia.
- NPAC provides a forum for regular communication between State and Territory National Parks Associations and acts as a united voice supporting conservation of the National Reserve System across Australia.